West Virginia is a foreign place to many University of Alabama gymnasts. It’s simply another spot on the map that perhaps, if anything, they’ve driven through before.
“I’ve never really thought about West Virginia,” junior Kiana Winston said. “I don’t know. I just know it’s a state, and I’ve never been there.”
Well, the Crimson Tide found out Monday that its NCAA Regional Championships site is in Morgantown, West Virginia. It will compete there as the No. 1 seed on April 1 for a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Other possible locations included Washington, Illinois, Arkansas, Nebraska and Florida.
“We had no idea where we were going to end up because you never know with the selection process,” UA coach Dana Duckworth said. “I am super pleased that we are going to be going to West Virginia. Really exciting for some of us because we’ve never been there.”
The last time the Crimson Tide was in West Virginia was 2002, when it won regionals. UA holds an NCAA-best 31 regional titles and has qualified for the NCAA Championships 34 consecutive years.
Joining No. 6 Alabama are No. 7 Michigan, No. 18 Southern Utah, George Washington, West Virginia and Kent State.
“Any teams that we ended up with, we’re going to compete the same way,” senior Katie Bailey said. “We’re going to just try to continue what we’ve been doing inside the gym.”
The Crimson Tide will start competition on uneven bars before heading to the balance beam. It will then have its first bye before the floor exercise and vault. It ends the meet on a bye.
Across the board: No. 1 Oklahoma will be in Seattle. No. 2 LSU is headed to Lincoln, Nebraska. No. 3 Florida is hosting its own regional in Gainesville, Florida. No. 4 Utah will be in Fayetteville, Arkansas. No. 5 UCLA has Champaign, Illinois.
“No matter where you go, you have one job to do,” Duckworth said. “It is to go out there and have the best performance you possibly can to put yourself in a position to qualify for the national championship.”